FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Neoliberal Endgame

It is a testament to the optimism of the left that some of us were able to find a silver lining even in the most toxic of black clouds which was the Charleston massacre. One of these was Maurice Mitchell of the Movement for Black Lives who was quoted as taking comfort in “the organizing and the heart and resilience we are seeing on the ground”. Mitchell was “hopeful that it will continue—that we might be able to precipitate a meaningful, transformative political and cultural shift in this country.”

Unfortunately, Mitchell’s optimism was probably misplaced for reasons Naomi Klein provides in the Shock Doctrine: crises, even those which might seem to galvanize the left, are routinely used as a smokescreen under which the right pursues their most regressive policies.

Last Thursday was no exception.

Indeed, while the bodies were being counted, the U.S. Congress approved HR 1314, a major step to achieving Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, which will result in far more devastation in African American communities than white supremacists’ bullets. The difference lies in the violence being effected by fountain pen wielding men in suits resulting in unseen destruction–of jobs, environmental protections and organizing rights all of which adding up to mass unemployment, misery, and hopelessness and, ultimately, thousands of premature deaths.

This outrage provoked almost no discussion in liberal and left circles which a week before had been crowing about having imposed a “crippling” obstacle to the passage of the TPA through the defeat of enabling legislation.

Thursday showed that little has changed since the heady days of NAFTA when a similar phalanx of a centrist Democratic executive, almost all of the Republican caucus and a few key defectors from the Democrat ranks enabled the first round of jobs-destroying trade agreements.

Among the crucial votes this Thursday were Congressional Black Caucus members Stephanie SewellEddie Bernice Johnson and Gregory Meeks whose overwhelmingly working class constituencies are sure to be among the biggest losers in the intensified race to the bottom the TPA is designed to promote.

But in the wake of the Charleston outrage, Sewell, Johnson and Meeks could be confident they would be insulated from any criticism for their vote, particularly from unions spearheading the opposition whose own history of racism remains an open wound for many African Americans.

Of course, the acknowledged master of racialized triangulation is the misleader in chief, Barack Obama whose service to elites was crucially enabled by liberals besotted by the prospect of an African American presidency, enthusiastically projecting all manner of left identitarian fantasies on to him-despite all evidence that he was committed to the corporate center right governance which has been the hallmark of his administration.

Those who had warned of this materializing hoped that the TPA, provoking Obama’s shameless attacks on the Democratic labor base and sullenly dishonest smears of Elizabeth Warren, would finally open the eyes of liberals to who they were dealing with.

No such luck. It’s a safe bet that the President will have some of his waning moral authority restored by Charleston. Demands from the black lives matter movement to “respect black leadership” will be cynically exploited by a ruling elite which recognized from the very beginning the unique value of cultivating multiculturally diverse spokespersons fronting for their neoliberal product line.

The strategy was first deployed by New York City mayor David Dinkins who was able to sell his candidacy to the establishment on the grounds that his left-liberal base, rather than rebel against his treasonous embrace of neoliberalism, would “take it from me.”

Let’s hope Barack Obama’s presidency will be seen as marking the zenith of this strategy.

It is time for the left to own up to its own role in enabling it and resolve to never allow itself to be played for suckers again.

John Halle blogs at Outrages and Interludes

More articles by:

John Halle blogs at Outrages and Interludes. He tweets at: jghalle.

August 21, 2018
Anthony DiMaggio
Fascist Nation: The “Alt-Right” Menace Persists, Despite Setbacks
Chris Floyd
Dial “N” for Mayhem: Wording Our Way to a New Level of Hell
Creston Davis
The Education Impasse in the USA
Jonathan Cook
In Detaining Peter Beinart, Israel Has Declared it No Longer Represents Millions of Jews Overseas
Kenneth Culton
Trump Supporters: the Joyous Cult Bound by Shared Story and Ritual
Andy Thayer
Why the Chicago ‘68 Convention Matters Today
Simone Chun
Sea of Tears: The Tragedy of Families Split by the Korean War
William Blum
The Russians Did It (cont.)
Manuel E. Yepe
How Capitalism Erodes Mental Health
Doug Noble
Thomas Mountain
Djibouti Faces Dark Days to Come; Eritrean Ports, Pipeline Threaten Ethiopian Trade Lifeline
Binoy Kampmark
Finding Fault and Faulty Infrastructure: Genoa’s Morandi Bridge Disaster
Kary Love
“Suffer Not the Little Children….”
Thomas Knapp
Omarosa Manigault Newman, Public Servant
August 20, 2018
Carl Boggs
The Road to Disaster?
James Munson
“Not With a Bomb, But a Whimper” … Then More Bombs.
Jonathan Cook
Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail –By Design
Robert Fisk
A US Trade War With Turkey Over a Pastor? Don’t Believe It
Howard Lisnoff
The Mass Media’s Outrage at Trump: Why the Surprise?
Faisal Khan
A British Muslim’s Perspective on the Burkha Debate
Andrew Kahn
Inhumanity Above the Clouds
Dan Glazebrook
Trump’s New Financial War on the Global South
George Wuerthner
Why the Gallatin Range Deserves Protection
Ted Rall
Is Trump a Brand-New Weird Existential Threat? No.
Sheldon Richman
For the Love of Reason
Susie Day
Why Pundits Scare Me
Dean Baker
Does France’s Economy Need to Be Renewed?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Mighty Voice for Peace Has Gone Silent: Uri Avnery, 1923-2018
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail